Category Archives: Our Story

CBU Cheer Wins Fourth Straight National Championship

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Sammi Sheppard and published in Lancers News on April 4, 2016.)

Photo Credit: CBU Lancers
Photo Credit: CBU Lancers

California Baptist University made history last year by becoming the first All-Girls Division II cheerleading team to win its third-straight National Cheerleaders Association Championship title. Friday afternoon got the job done once again to grab their fourth consecutive crown, becoming the first Division II program (coed or all-girl) to do so.

“This team has worked extremely hard and we have told them all year long that the work is worth it,” said Coach Tami Fleming. “Today they proved that. What an honor to make history by winning our fourth national title. I am so proud.”

CBU finished with 95.08 points, but had a few deductions to drop its final score down to 92.33. Columbus State put in a strong finals performance and only had a 0.75-point deduction to move up from third place in the prelims to second place, while Oklahoma Baptist took third overall.

“We did have a few mistakes in our routine today, but despite those moments, the team worked together as a family and overcame the struggles,” said Fleming. “That’s what happens when teammates truly trust each other. We are proud to be Lancers!”

CBU was the last All-Girl Division II squad to compete after scoring the highest in Thursday’s prelims, saving the best for last.

All six squads in the finale finished with the maximum 10 points of their 45 second game-day cheer and collegiate image. From there on, however, the Lancers took the top points in the remaining eight categories, including a 9.70 in baskets and two 9.58’s in tumbling and choreography. CBU was the only team to get more than nine points in the overall effect category, which eventually led it to be the only team with over 90 total points after the two days.

The win also keeps CBU’s unbeaten streak, dating back to the 2013 season, very much alive.

Winning competitions like this help CBU and Riverside become a location of choice for students seeking a great education and highly competitive athletics program.

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Getty Foundation Awards UCR ARTSblock $225,000

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Mojgan Sherkat and published in UCR Today on April 12, 2016.)

Hector Hernandez, Bulca, 2015 (detail). COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND UCR ARTSBLOCK
Hector Hernandez, Bulca, 2015 (detail).
COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND UCR ARTSBLOCK

The Getty Foundation awarded the University of California, Riverside ARTSblock a $225,000 grant for “Mundos Alternos: Art and Science Fiction in the Americas,” an exhibition that brings together contemporary artists over the last three decades from across the Americas who have tapped into science fiction’s capacity to imagine new realities and alternate worlds.

“Based on our extensive research ‘Mundos Alternos’ will include large-scale kinetic works, sculptures, photographs, drawings, paintings, costumes, and video works by more than 30 artists,” said Tyler Stallings, the interim executive director of UCR ARTSblock.

The grant follows a $125,000 award given to UCR ARTSblock in 2014 for research toward the conception of the exhibition, which allowed for curatorial travel, research, and planning. Co-curated by Stallings, Joanna Szupinska-Myers, curator of exhibitions at California Museum of Photography at UCR ARTSblock, and Robb Hernández, assistant professor of English at UCR, the trio had the opportunity to meet with artists and scholars in cities throughout the U.S., Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and South America.

The exhibition will encompass the 8,000 square feet that comprise the changing exhibition galleries at UCR ARTSblock’s three venues – California Museum of Photography, Culver Center of the Arts, and Sweeney Art Gallery. It is expected to travel to other venues, accompanied by a heavily illustrated book that includes original essays, art and science fiction by the curators and leading scholars with expertise in Mexico, Brazil, and Central America.

“Mundos Alterno” will utilize the world’s largest holding of science fiction materials, the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy in the UCR Libraries. In 2012, the Eaton Collection acquired a major collection of science fiction and fantasy pulp magazines published in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Spain.

“Science fiction offers a unique artistic landscape in which to explore the colonial enterprise that shaped the Americas, and to present alternative perspectives speculating on the past and the future,” said Szupinska-Myers.

“‘Mundos Alternos’ is a historic show placing UCR at the forefront of the first transnational effort to identify a growing tendency in contemporary Latin American and Latino art, a tendency that recasts ‘the future’ at a time when debates over immigration reform, militarized borders, and American citizenship continue to take center stage in this country,” said Hernández.

“This exhibition is particularly apt for UCR as it is a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), which is reflected not only on the campus but in the surrounding community, too,” said Milagros Peña, dean of the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (CHASS) at UCR. UCR was named an HSI in 2008, the first in the UC system to receive the honor.

“Mundos Alterno” is part of “Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA,” a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles, taking place from September 2017 through January 2018 at more than 60 cultural institutions from Santa Barbara to San Diego, and from Los Angeles to Palm Springs. “Pacific Standard Time” is an initiative of the J. Paul Getty Museum. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America.

“All of ‘Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA’s’ exhibitions are grounded in significant original research carried out by teams of curators – including scholars, artists, and critics – in the United States, Latin America, and Europe,” said Deborah Marrow, director of the Getty Foundation. “The fruits of their collaborative research will be evident in the resulting exhibitions. The exhibitions will also leave a lasting legacy of scholarship through numerous catalogues and other publications. The Getty Foundation is proud to support all of this work.”

UCR ARTSblock is located at 3824 and 3834 Main St., Riverside, Calif., and includes three venues: California Museum of Photography, Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts, and the Jack and Marilyn Sweeney Art Gallery, which are open Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m., plus 6-9 p.m. for First Thursday ArtWalks. Admission is $3, which includes entry to all three venues, and is free during First Thursday ArtWalks. For film screenings, the Culver Center opens 30 minutes prior to the start time. www.artsblock.ucr.edu.

This grant is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s Intelligent Growth Pillar.  Riverside embraces economic growth and directs it so it maintains and improves our already outstanding quality of life. This includes growing the economy, raising the standard of living and managing a growing population.

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Program Steers Teen Away From Gang Life

(This article contains excerpts from the article published in the Press Enterprise on March 24, 2016.)

Photo Credit: The Press Enterprise
Photo Credit: The Press Enterprise

As a freshman at John W. North High School in Riverside, Diego Cabrera was looking to be accepted, validated and forge friendships that would last forever.

But Cabrera’s friends that year were leading him down the wrong path.

“Smoking marijuana, skipping class, not doing my schoolwork – it was not a good crowd,” Cabrera said.

Cabrera, now 16, and his father, Andres Cabrera Garcia, eventually turned to the Opportunity With Education program, which includes 14 weeks of classes, community service and character building to help straighten out wayward youth. It is sponsored by the Riverside Police Foundation.

“It was like he lost interest and he was lost,” said Cabrera Garcia, who discovered that some of his son’s new friends were facing expulsion and that others were gang members.

He worried that Cabrera soon might join a gang.

One incident, in particular, prompted action.

During a football game one Friday night when Cabrera was a sophomore, campus security found drugs on some of the boys in the teen’s group.

North High Principal Lynne Sheffield called the family that night and said he would be expelled if he didn’t stay out of trouble.

“We immediately started searching for programs that would help Diego,” Cabrera Garcia said.

The family turned to Riverside police Detective Brian Money, who runs the Riverside Police Foundation’s judo club. Cabrera had been a member of the club in his youth. Money referred the family to Officer Ryan Railsback, coordinator of the Opportunity With Youth program.

The program runs twice a year, February to May and then September to December. The free program is open to ages 12-17.

Participants and their parents spend 14 weeks taking classes, including juvenile law, drugs, alcohol, gangs and social media, and touring hospitals, juvenile detention facilities and coroner’s facilities. Sessions also include community service, physical fitness, character building and counseling.

Each Saturday, parents or legal guardians and their children meet with Railsback and his team at Riverside City College.

“I really appreciated all the experts,” Cabrera Garcia said. “The counseling really helped us to talk to Diego. Now we’re much better.”

Railsback said parental participation is key to participants’ success.

“What that means is they have to be there,” Railsback said.

For adolescents to be accepted into the program, parents or guardians have to commit and participate every Saturday with their children. Parents receive counseling and parenting classes and attend the topic lecture for that class along with their children.

“If the parents aren’t going to commit, then the kids aren’t going to commit,” Railsback said.

The program, which started in 2011, enrolls youth who have never been arrested, who have pending criminal cases or who are on probation.

Started as part of Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz’s initiative to keep youth from becoming negatively impacted by the criminal justice system, the program has helped hundreds of at-risk youth like Cabrera get back on track.

“We started to notice the change little by little,” Cabrera Garcia said. “It’s like he’s the old Diego again. It’s a good program.”

He said his son is doing better in school, his grades are up, he helps more around the house, he helps with his nephews, is back at judo club guiding younger children and challenged athletes and has joined the Riverside Police Explorers since graduating from the Opportunity With Youth program in December.

“His dedication is remarkable,” said Railsback, who remembers the teenager who first showed up to the class in September and has seen the change in Cabrera since. “He wants to make a better life for himself. We just needed to help him make better choices.”

Diaz invited Cabrera on March 17 to speak at the fifth annual Riverside Police Foundation Chiefs breakfast. In front of a crowd of elected officials, the 16-year-old shared his story of overcoming gangs and drugs and choosing the right path.

Diego said that after the speech, members of the audience came up to tell him they were proud of him.

“It feels good,” Cabrera said. “I know I’m on the right track.”

Riversiders commitment to making one-other’s life a little better is a great example of Riverside acting as a unified city. The actions of all the participating organizations and people demonstrates that Riverside is a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.

To read the full article, click here.

Volunteers Beautify Camp Anza Army Base-Turned-Veterans-Housing

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Laurie Williams and published in the Press Enterprise on April 2, 2016.)

Photo Credit: Laurie Williams, The Press Enterprise
Photo Credit: Laurie Williams, The Press Enterprise

A squad of volunteers reported for duty Wednesday at the site of a former Army training camp in Riverside.

The mission: Help beautify the property that recently had been turned into an apartment community for disabled veterans and their families.

Two years ago, Wakeland Housing and Development Corp. in San Diego was chosen to install affordable housing for disabled veterans at the former Camp Anza in Riverside’s Arlanza area, Wakeland spokeswoman Elaine Camuso said. “The camp was closed at the end of World War II,” Camuso said.

The property was sold, and the former Officers Club was used by a local service club lodge. Later vacant, it got run down.

“Kids used it as a hangout, and it was damaged and vandalized,” Camuso said.

The 30-unit apartment community – Home Front at Camp Anza – was built around the refurbished Officers Club, which now serves as a gathering place and offers services to residents.

Construction is almost finished, Camuso said, and most residents have moved in. Rents range from $381 to $896 per month, she said, depending on income level.

On Wednesday, volunteers from Home Depot in Temecula focused on creating a garden near the Officers Club for kitchen herbs, tomatoes and jalapeños.

Volunteer Thomas Sanders, a Home Depot employee, said it means a lot to him to reach out to veterans, because many of his friends and relatives have served in the military.

“We’re all neighbors,” he said. “All of us work and face challenges. The people here served their country, and I’m glad to serve them.”

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Photo Credit: Laurie Williams, The Press Enterprise

Helping veterans is also a priority for Home Depot: 35,000 of its employees have served in the military, and the company added $500,000 to the $14 million in federal low-income housing tax credits that paid for construction.

Builders uncovered a wealth of history as they refurbished the Officers Club, which will be used as a community building, said 6th Ward City Councilman Jim Perry, who was among the volunteers Wednesday.

“You should have seen it before,” he said, gesturing toward the edifice. “It was all stuccoed over, the windows were boarded up and it had been painted white. Now it looks like it did in World War II.”

Builders found that they could repair and reuse most of the building’s wood siding and paneling, Perry said, and the wood floors inside, now shining, are all original. The interior features a kitchen and a computer lab for residents’ use.

“One of my favorite things about this development is how it’s been embraced by the neighbors,” Perry said. “A lot have offered help. There was no water to the site at first, and a family north of here let the contractor use their water. The contractor offered to pay their water bills, but they turned it down.”

Air Force veteran Benny de la Rosa, 59, said he lived on the street for years before his application to move into Home Front at Camp Anza was accepted.

“Those were hard times,” he said. “I was using a lot of drugs and got addicted.”

Clean and sober now after rehab though the Veterans Administration, he lives with his girlfriend, Ronnie Trevino, 68, in a two-bedroom apartment filled with art and plants.

“It’s a lot different for me now,” de la Rosa said. “I actually have money in the bank.”

Riversiders commitment to making one-other’s life a little better is a great example of Riverside acting as a unified city. The actions of all the participating organizations demonstrates that Riverside is a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.

To read the full article, click here.

Riverside Firefighter Gives His Shoes To Barefoot Homeless Man

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Katie Kindelan and published in Yahoo/ABC News on January 19, 2016.)

Photo Credit: ABC News
Photo Credit: City of Riverside Fire Department/Facebook

A California firefighter and his captain are being praised for pulling their fire truck over to give a pair of shoes to a homeless man walking barefoot on a highway.

The firefighters, from Riverside, California, were driving back to the fire station last week from a physical fitness test when they saw an elderly homeless man walking on the side of the freeway, Bruce Vanderhorst, the battalion’s Chief Public Information Officer, told ABC News.

The firefighters turned their fire truck around to help the man and then noticed he was barefoot.

One of the firefighters aboard the engine, David Gilstrap, donated his own pair of sneakers to the homeless man, while the engine’s captain, Rob Gabler, walked over and helped the homeless man put on his shoes.

The moment was captured on camera and shared on the fire department’s Facebook page last Thursday.

Vanderhorst told ABC News the firefighters also offered the homeless man water and access to the city’s homeless services.

“Services are always offered and we tell them, ‘We can get help to you,’” he said. “We’re very proud of the work we do building our community relations and we’re here to help in any way we can whenever those opportunities present themselves.”

Riversiders commitment to making one-other’s life a little better is a great example of Riverside acting as a unified city. The actions of this Riverside firefighter demonstrates that Riverside is a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.

To read the full article, click here.

Mission Inn Holiday Festival Ranked Best In Nation

(This article contains excerpts from the article published in the Press Enterprise on December 23, 2015.)

Photo Credit: Milka Soko
Photo Credit: Milka Soko

The annual Festival of Lights celebration at the Mission Inn Hotel and Spa in Riverside again has ranked at the top of a USA Today poll.

In late 2014, USA Today readers voted it the best public lights display, and on Wednesday it was named the best holiday festival, beating events in San Francisco, San Diego and seven other cities.

The 23rd year of the event features more than 4 million lights, 400 characters on the property and some returning snack favorites like funnel cakes and miniature doughnuts.

Surrounding events like vendors and ice skating will end Jan. 2, but the rest will remain through Jan. 6.

The Festival of Lights is just one of the many things that make Riverside a location of choice for people seeking a great and affordable community. Our community provides an abundance of opportunities to be amazed, inspired, and entertained.

For the entire list of holiday festival, click here.

To read the full article, click here.

Hundreds Gathered AT UCR To Honor Victims Of The San Bernardino Shooting

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Kris Lovekin and published in UCR Today on December 9, 2015.)

Photo Credit: UCR Today
Photo Credit: UCR Today

About 400 people attended a candlelight vigil near the Highlander Union Building Dec. 4  to honor the victims of the mass shooting in San Bernardino Dec 2, that killed 14 and injured 21, including four UCR alumni.

Among the dead were Sierra Clayborn, 27, who graduated from UCR  in 2010 in biochemistry, and 58-year-old Damian Meins, who graduated in Economics in 1978. Meins spent his career in environmental safety. His two daughters are also UCR graduates.

Jennifer Stevens, 22, who graduated this past June in environmental science, was hospitalized, as was Denise Peraza, 27, who earned her master’s degree in Environmental Science at UCR in 2013.

Wilcox reminded the crowd that “we are becoming more closely connected as human beings, more tightly knit. When we talk about changing the world, when we talk about making the world a better place, we are empowered in ways that humans have never been to do that, through our connectedness.” Coming together in these times of sorrow is a true demonstration of what makes us a unified city.  We are a caring community that has compassion for all people and we stand with San Bernardino in their time of need.

A lone bagpipe played by Mike Terry, head of UCR’s Pipe Band, closed the somber event as the attendees quietly held their electric candles.

To read the full article, click here.

Riverside Non-Profit Is Keeping The Santa Ana River Clean And Beautiful

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Jordan E. Rosenfeld and published in Good.is on December 1, 2015.)

Inland Empire Waterkeepers clean up Mill Creek. Photo Credit: www.Good.is
Inland Empire Waterkeepers clean up Mill Creek. Photo Credit: www.Good.is

Southern California is famous for its beaches, but not many people know it’s home to one of the most unique river ecosystems in the world, the 110-mile Santa Ana River, which is fed by many smaller tributaries. It’s such a special environment that famed biologist E.O. Wilson named it one of the world’s 10 biological hotspots, according to Megan Brousseau, director of the nonprofit organization Inland Empire Waterkeeper. The Riverside, California, group has worked hard to restore these waters and to protect them from pollution.

People don’t know this river is a riparian forest, with great white egrets and blue heron, and home to an endangered species that lives nowhere else in the world, the Santa Ana suckerfish,” she says. “We are absolutely responsible for this species continuing or disappearing, right here in little old California.”

Director, Inland Empire Waterkeeper Brousseau spends a lot of time educating people about their personal part in pollution, and motivates them to recycle and reuse by getting them down to the river, where they can see the effects with their own eyes. By bringing their attention to the intersection between the natural world and their own consumption, she’s better able to encourage recycling and proper disposal.

Overall, what we’re working on is creating ownership and pride,” Brousseau says. “If there is no ownership, then there will be no stewardship. What we really want to do is give this river back to the people. We are cleaning it not only to make it safe and to recreate, but by getting [people] down there, they start to feel like it’s theirs.”

Thanks to her organization’s cleanup efforts, the portion of the river that runs through Riverside—creeks and streams once too full of trash and toxins for anyone to swim or play in them—are now host to kids’ educational summer camps and recreational play that teaches personal responsibility.

Brousseau feels that stewardship, which includes teaching the importance of recycling, should be a part of the curriculum at every grade level. “We would never give somebody a car and not teach them how to pump gas, steer, or change a flat tire. Even in the most remedial job, you give them the tools to do it right. We release our kids with no tools on how to care for this earth. The river is an outdoor education space that is free to 10 schools within walking distance that are Title 1 impoverished,” says Brousseau.

With grant funding, Inland Empire Waterkeeper has been able to sponsor a summer river camp for kids. Under the guise of fun experiments like inspecting the water under microscopes, collecting aquatic insects, and testing water quality, the camp teaches them good habits for life, like recycling and reusing. “All of my life I was told: ‘Don’t drop that chip bag, it will end up in the ocean,’” says Brousseau. But today’s kids are not as aware of the connection between trash and our waterways. “Many kids think I’m full of it, until I take them down for these cleanups and show them the huge pipe dumping right into the river and the Mylar Capri Sun packaging floating by.”

Thanks to grants and a partnership with Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water, parts of the Santa Ana River are on their way back to recreational health. At a joint last cleanup at Mill Creek, volunteers pulled more than 4,500 pounds of trash from the urban stream, including such egregiously dumped items as shopping carts, tires, and carpet rolls. The group has since initiated a program that redirects thousands of pounds of housing and landscape development materials by setting up drop-offs for hazardous trash and big, bulky items.

Organizations such as Inland Empire Waterkeeper are great examples of Seizing Our Destiny’s unified city pillar. Riversiders are working together everyday to not only address local issues, but to also have a positive impact on the region, nation, and world.

To read the full article, click here.

Riverside ‘Halloween House’ Returns

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Tracy Bloom and published in KTLA 5 on October 20, 2015.)

The display is the creation of Kevin and Amber Judd of Creative Lighting Displays. It marks the seventh year they’ve put together such a show and the second year in a row at its current location in the 8300 block of Deercreek Drive.

This year’s version — located at the home of Mark and Melanie Betty, who are friends with the Judds — features the theme song from “Ghostbusters.”

In 2014, the attraction was briefly shut down by police because of noise complaints. It went on again, however, after the Judds obtained a special event permit.

“This year, we went through the proper process to get the block party permits,” Melanie Betty said Tuesday.

For years, before relocating the tradition to the Betty household, the Judds hosted it at their own residence.

The “Ghostbusters” theme is perhaps a nod to what the couple wrote on the Creative Lighting Displays Facebook page after receiving the permit.

“Like the GhostBusters said in the movies ‘We’re Baaack!’ We could not have done it without the support of the community so THANK YOU!” the post read.

From the “Halloween House” to the Festival of Lights, Riverside is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s location of choice pillar.  Our community provides an abundance of opportunities to be amazed, inspired and entertained.

To read the full article, click here.

IF YOU GO

Where: 8381 Deercreek Drive, Riverside
When: 7, 7:45 and 8:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through Halloween; 7 and 7:45 p.m. Sunday.
Parking: Orange Terrace Park, some on-street parking except in areas where a permit is required.
Viewing: Orange Terrace Park
Information: facebook.com/CreativeLightingDisplays

Affordable Housing For Disabled Veterans Coming Soon

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Suzanne Hurt and published in The Press Enterprise on September 20, 2015.)

Photo Credit: Kurt Miller, The Press Enterprise
Photo Credit: Kurt Miller, The Press Enterprise

A World War II officer’s club at a long-shuttered military base is morphing into a new center of hope and healing for veterans in an innovative Riverside housing project expected to open early next year.

The Camp Anza Officers Club, with its huge dance floor, tiki room and paintings of Polynesian beauties, was the site of send-off parties for thousands of officers leaving for combat in the Pacific.

The massive building, which sat at the heart of a vital U.S. Army troop staging area, is undergoing a renovation to make it the centerpiece of the Home Front at Camp Anza.

The $14.1 million project by San Diego-based Wakeland Housing and Development Corp., Mercy House of Santa Ana and Riverside’s housing authority will offer affordable apartments for 29 disabled vets and their families and on-site services to keep them together.

On a tour of the area Wednesday, Riverside City Councilman Jim Perry said the effort to help returning war vets also will revitalize one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods by breathing new life into an important piece of its past.

The historic clubhouse will function as the complex’s community center, offering services tailored to vets and a place for relaxation and meetings. Vets will work with a full-time case manager provided by Mercy House.

Vets will get on-site physical therapy, job coaching and placement, and classes on civilian life skills and financial literacy. They will be connected with Veterans Affairs benefits and vocational training or higher education, said Mercy House Executive Director Larry Haynes.

For vets and their families, there will be on- and off-site behavioral and mental health support, conflict resolution, financial assistance, tutoring and school supplies for kids.

Riversiders commitment to making one-other’s life a little better is a great example of Riverside acting as a unified city. The actions of all the participating organizations demonstrates that Riverside is a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.

To read the full story, click here.